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Advantages and Disadvantages of Aluminium Curtain Walls

9/17/2013 10:28:04 AM | by Anonymous

Aluminium Curtain Walls

An aluminium curtain wall is basically a protective layer affixed to the outside of a building protecting its structure. During medieval times, these walls were the most important defensive structures used to protect castles. Today, they serve as a more basic protective purpose. However, in the Middle Ages, these walls were meant to keep invaders out and were build to keep out elements typically rain and wind in order to help stabilize the entire structure. It is largely used in commercial building designs. Curtains walls thus serve a significantly important purpose. That being said, there are also downsides to having them in place as well. The curtain wall is non-structural and can be made of lightweight material which helps to reduce construction costs.


Curtain walls are typically designed with aluminum despite the fact that the first curtain walls were made of steel. The aluminium frame is typically filled with glass, which endows an architecturally pleasing building. It enhances benefits such as day lighting and environmental control. They differ from storefront systems in that they are designed to span multiple floors and take into consideration the design requirements of the curtain wall. Such requirements are thermal expansion and contraction, water diversion, building sway and movement, lighting in the building and thermal efficiency for cost effective heating as well as cooling.


You can change the configuration of a room by adding walls. They can quickly become an expensive remodeling project. An aluminium curtain wall is an inexpensive solution when you want to segment a room into different areas and create partition. Additionally, the curtain walls can be used for privacy in a shared room, creating new “rooms” in the open area. These open areas can be basements, or an unattractive traditional wall.



One major advantage of aluminium curtain walls is that it allows filtration of natural light into the building. Additionally, it prevents air and moisture from entering into the structure. They can also act as a fire stop, preventing the spread of fire from floor to floor of the building structure. The walls help in the transfer of horizontal wind loads that are incidental upon it to the main building structure through the connections at floors of the building. It is also designed to being air resistant and allowing water infiltration, sway induction by wind and forces acting against the building.


One major disadvantage of aluminium curtain walls is the need for regular maintenance. In order to keep moisture and wind out, a sealant must always be applied to the perimeter. This sealant must be replaced once every 10 years or so. Another disadvantage is that it is costly and time consuming for the installation of curtain walls. Curtain walls utilize the stick system. In order to assemble them, a great deal of time is needed. Their performance will also depend on the quality of the installation. Unitised curtain walls can also consist of factory assembled frames that reduces installation time and cost but generates greater cost for shipping as well as storage. The removal and replacement of perimeter sealants requires meticulous preparation and proper detailing. Aluminium frames are usually painted or anodized. Care must be taken when cleaning areas around the anodized materials as cleaning agents can destroy the finish. Factory applied fluoropolymer coatings also have good resistance to environmental degradation and only requires periodic cleaning. Recoating it with an air dry coating is possible but however requires special surface preparation. It is also not as durable as the baked on original coating. Anodized aluminium frames cannot be “re-anodized” but however can be protected by clear coatings to improve appearance and durability. Exposed glazing seals also require inspections and maintenance to minimize water penetration. It is also to limit exposure of frame seals and insulating glass seals to wetting.


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